Clyde Shugart, a gritty two-way lineman on the Redskins' 1942 NFL championship team, passed away on July 2 at age 92, a few days after suffering a stroke.
He was the oldest-living ex-Redskin following Sammy Baugh's death in December.
Shugart played his entire career in Washington from 1939-44, a time when the franchise enjoyed its first glory era and was one of the league's perennial powers.
He was a nasty pulling guard and helped clear the way for runners like Wilbur Moore and Bob Seymour. His Redskin teams went to the NFL title game in the 1940, 1942 and 1943 seasons, each time facing the Chicago Bears, the NFL's other dominant team of that period.
The Redskins' 14-6 victory over the Bears in 1942 was sandwiched between a humiliating 73-0 loss to Chicago in 1940 and a 41-21 loss in 1943.
Shugart lived in Joppatown, Md., for many years following his retirement from football. In 2007, he moved to Gulf Breeze, Fla., where he passed away.
He is originally from Ames, Iowa. He played football at Iowa State, where the 6-1, 230-pounder, speedy for his size, was an all-Big Six tackle in his senior year in 1938. The Redskins drafted him in the 15th round in 1939.
Newspaper photo of Redskins' 1942 championship club;
Clyde Shugart was No. 51 in back row.
At the time, the Redskins were one of the NFL's most formidable squads. They won the league championship with a 28-21 win over the Bears in 1937, their first season in the nation's capital, and just missed winning the Eastern Division title in 1938.
With Shugart playing mostly guard but some tackle in the days of single-platoon football, the Redskins finished 8-2-1 in 1939, again falling just short of the Eastern Division championship.
But Shugart and other Redskins thought the team deserved to go farther. When the Redskins and Giants met in the 1939 regular-season finale, the winner was guaranteed to claim the division and earn a trip to the championship game.
The Giants led, 9-7, with less than a minute left, when Redskins kicker Bo Russell, who was perfect all season, tried a 15-yard field goal.
The kick appeared good, and the Redskins began celebrating with the ball in the air. Giants players even appeared dejected. But when the ball landed on the ground, referee Bill Halloran called the kick wide right. The Giants ran out the clock.
"I was in the game, and I thought it was good," Shugart said in 2001. "In fact, we were all cheering and some of the Giants had even taken off their helmets and thrown them down. All of a sudden, people realized that the official had called the kick no good. Pictures later shown in the newspaper proved it to be good."
Next came the 1940 campaign, when the Redskins posted a then-franchise-record nine wins against two losses. But the team's horrific championship-game performance against the Bears tainted the season--and left the Redskins seething.
"We really wanted to get even with the Bears," Shugart said. "We hated them because of that tremendous score they ran up. Of course, we never liked them anyhow."
That chance for revenge came in the 1942 championship game before a sellout crowd of 36,000 at Griffith Stadium. In town was a Bears team riding an 18-game winning streak and one dubbed the "Monsters of the Midway" for its fierce and unrelenting style of play.
One Bears intimidator was lineman George Musso, a future Hall of Famer. For a while, Musso overwhelmed Redskins center George Smith, so Shugart switched with Smith and ended up going face-to-face with Musso, one of several Bears who skimmed the borderline of dirty play, Shugart said.
"Musso wasn't expecting me to block him, and I had a golden opportunity to let him have it," Shugart recalled. "Then he threatened to slug me, and we got into a discussion during a timeout. He said, 'You know what's going to happen?' I said, `Yeah, we'll both get thrown out of the game.' So we settled down and played football instead of throwing punches at each other."
Shugart was a second-team All-Pro in 1943, when the Redskins went 6-3-1 before losing to the Bears in the title game. He quit after the 1944 season when making a salary of $4,400.
A dairy industry student at Iowa State, he had already worked for the High's company a bit during his playing days and decided to return to High's after the 1944 season. He eventually became part-owner of a High's plant in Baltimore.
Shugart worked at High's for 47 years before retiring in 1986. Along the way, he bought season tickets to Baltimore Colts games starting in 1953. He held onto them until the Colts moved to Indianapolis before the 1984 season. He also owned season tickets to Redskins games for about five years when they played at RFK Stadium.
At Shugart's get-away home in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania, he kept three footballs in his trophy room, one with player signatures from the Colts' team that beat the Giants, 23-17, in the famous 1958 NFL championship game; one from the Redskins' 1942 team; and one from a 1938 game when Iowa State beat Missouri.
Michael Richman is the author of The Redskins Encyclopedia, a 432-page book that spans the 75-year history of the storied franchise. His web site is **www.redskinshistorian.com*.*